Britain will not enter Youth America's Cup team


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The Independent Online

Britain has failed to raise a team for the Youth America’s Cup. As the deadline for entries closed on 31 October, all three attempts, one of which planned to race under the Ben Ainslie Racing banner.

The new event will be staged for the first time in San Francisco between the end of next summer’s Louis Vuitton Cup challenger elimination series and the America’s Cup defence against the winner by the holder, Team Oracle USA.

There are claimed to be 17 countries and 20 potential challenges but they will be scrutinised by management group headed by Austrian Olympic gold medallist Roman Hagara. Further selection trials are planned in San Francisco in February, and a final four will go through to the September event.

Britain had been very hopeful of competing but two of the three possible teams fell by the wayside early. The Ben Ainslie Racing group itself, with the help of the Royal Yachting Association, then set about the task of recruiting the crew and raising the finance.

The entry fee is $35,000 and it would take about $150,000 to race the boat, an AC45 wing-powered catamaran, and support the crew.

In the end the main problem was with the crew, mainly Olympic hopefuls, who could make their diaries fit both events. Olympic medals are more important.

Interest is expected from Italy, France, Sweden, New Zealand and Hagara’s native Austria, home of the event’s sponsor, Red Bull. San Francisco is allowed its own team in addition to a United States team.

The Kiwis have said that they may use their youth squad to race the 45 in next year’s America’s Cup World Series, as they concentrate their efforts on working up the second of two 72-foot wing-powered catamarans for the Cup.

They could also target Peter Burling to run both the ACWS and youth boats. New Zealander Burling, born New Year’s Day 1991, won silver in the 49er skiff at London 2012 and in early October skippered the Team Korea boat at the ACSW regatta in San Francisco.

But Team Korea is not thought likely to be able to finance a boat to be on the start line for the Louis Vuitton. They are thought to have bought the carbon fibre for the boat but there has been no announcement of a hull being built, a wing being built or even of people being on standby to build anything. They would need over 80,000 man hours to do that.

There are problems, too, mainly financial, with the two Italian ACWS regattas scheduled for Venice in April and Naples in May. New York may be added to the list.

The damage done to Swedish challenger Artemis’s twin hull 72-foot platform when taken for towing tests in San Francisco Bay may be cured more quickly than at first thought, but the repair after pitchpole capsize, new wing build, and second boat build all being run in parallel means the defender, Oracle, looks as though it will be well after Christmas before they can resume training.

Which leaves team member Ben Ainslie free to attend the world sailor of the year dinner at the International Sailing Federation’s annual general meeting in Dublin next week. The fanfares may sound for his fourth title to match his fourth Olympic gold medal but the fireworks will explode over an attempt to restore windsurfing to the Olympic slate after being replaced by kiteboarding.

A new president will also be elected with Australia’s David Kellett and Italy’s Carlo Croce leading the charge.